Sunless tanning lotion provides a solution to those who wish to have the golden bronzed look of a tan but want to avoid the problems associated with sun exposure. With more and more clinical studies showing that excessive exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause problems like premature aging and even skin cancer, sunless tanning lotion is a way to get the look without having to pay the price later on down the road.
How Sunless Tanning Lotion Works
When skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or from tanning beds, the bottom layer – the dermis – reacts by producing melanin to darken the skin and thus create a tan. While this is a defense mechanism that our skin has in order to avoid excessive damage from UV rays, the melanin produced to absorb the radiation also creates a dark, bronzed look that is considered attractive by many people. While there were times when “sun worshippers” would lay out in strong sun for hours at a time in order to get this “tanning glow,” increasing medical findings that this type of exposure can result in serious problems has discouraged this type of behavior.
The active ingredient in the most effective sunless tanning lotion types is dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, which is a colorless substance that interacts with the outermost layer of the epidermis – the top layer of the skin – and causes a color change. Other active ingredients include tyrosine, which is claimed to increase melanin formulation, and canthaxanthin, which must be ingested in order for the orange-brown color of the substance to be deposited in the skin. These ingredients have not been approved for use as tanning agents, but are nevertheless popular.
Since, unlike the dermis, the epidermis is continually being shed, sunless tanning lotion requires regular re-application in order for the color to be maintained. Most manufacturers recommend applying at least every three days.
Applying sunless tanning lotion
Sunless tanning lotion comes in many different forms and which type is used is largely personal preference. The most basic type of sunless tanning lotion is applied by hand, and has a creamy lotion-like consistency that is easily spread over the skin. Foams are also a popular choice in sunless tanning lotions, and can make it easier to apply an even layer without over application. Sprays are the latest development in sunless tanning lotions and, with some extra care, can result in the most even distribution of the formula.
How to use sunless tanning lotion
The prospect of spreading a coloring agent all over one’s skin can be daunting, especially when we have all seen how disastrous mistakes can be. However, following a few simple steps can make applying sunless tanning lotion as easy as possible.
Sunless tanning lotions will stain clothing and carpets, so application should be done in dark-colored clothing in the bathtub or shower. The skin should first be exfoliated, reducing the likelihood of uneven color developing. Skin should then be dried completely, moisturized and allowed to rest briefly before tanner is applied. The sunless tanning lotion should be applied only slightly more heavily than regular body lotion, and applied quickly in a circular motion to avoid any streaking. Hands should be washed with a nail brush every 5 minutes during this process to avoid staining them orange.
The lotion to the face and neck should be applied last, since they absorb the tanning lotion quickest, then the entire body should be allowed to dry for at least thirty minutes. For best results, the sunless tanning lotion should be allowed to dry all night; however, avoiding contact with water or moisture for three hours will be sufficient time for the formula to work.